Summer Nights

What’s making us happy today?

A new angle on fireworks. On the Fourth of July, you could watch the same pop and fizzle into the sky thousands of feet above. Or, you could be in the sky with the fireworks. At 360 Chicago‘s observatory, the view is as good as it gets. We’re talking the 94th floor, 1,000 feet above the sidewalk, with floor-to-ceiling windows. Now, that’s literally in the action. Line up early. It’s a popular spot.

A hike done by the light of a full moon. With the Mercury rising in the desert during the summer, the coolest way to sightsee might very well be in the dark. The magic moment is close to the full moon. After-dark hikes in Idyllwild near Palm Springs are led by Friends of the Desert Mountains. There, on a clear night, you might see Catalina Island off California’s coast. In Joshua Tree National Park, starting at 9 p.m., a one-miler is undertaken in 90 minutes. The McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Scottsdale, Arizona, introduces hikers to creepy crawlies on the Scorpion Night Hike. They do, indeed, glow in the dark.

Joshua-Tree-entrancePhoto by Lian Law, courtesy of the National Park Service

joshua-tree_milkywayPhoto by Brad Sutton, courtesy of the National Park Service

Showers in the desert.
 As in the Perseids meteor shower, which peaks the night of August 12. For those who like natural fireworks, this would be the way to go. The four-hour gazing tour with Stellar Adventures, in the middle of the remote Arizona desert, guides you to an understanding of this celestial event. For example, “gazing at 50 to 60 mph” translates to seeing 50 to 60 meteors per hour. 

Plein-air movie-viewing. Every week throughout the summer, within the California forest, the Henry Miller Library projects the winners from what might be the most relaxed film festival you’ll ever attend. At Big Sur International Short Film Screening, on Thursday nights, shorts are flashed on a screen in a makeshift theater that sits within the redwoods. Popcorn is served, and admission is by donation at the annual event.

BigSur_Henry-Miller-signPhoto by Nancy Dowd via Flickr 

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